The science of scent memory

Woman walking through flower field holding onto her hat

Think back to one of the BIG moments in your life. What details do you remember? Maybe you can recall exactly what you were wearing, what was on TV, where you went to dinner that night. Maybe you remember a chill in the air or the broiling summer heat. How did you feel? What did you say?

Does a particular fragrance come to mind?

“When you first smell a new scent, you link it to an event, a person, a thing or even a moment. Your brain forges a link between the smell and a memory — associating the smell of chlorine with summers at the pool or lilies with a funeral. When you encounter the smell again, the link is already there, ready to elicit a memory or a mood.” (Sarah Dowdey, Smell and Memory, HowStuffWorks.com)

At Scentsy, we call them scent memories — the emotion and memory that comes rushing back when you encounter a familiar fragrance. Sometimes expected, but more often a total surprise, scent memories have the power to take us back in time with even the subtlest trace of fragrance.

Think about it: Has a certain smell ever stopped you in your tracks? (No, we’re not talking about those unpleasant odors — though they bring back memories, too.)

It’s when you walk outside and the lilac is in bloom: Your mind travels back to that first spring you spent in your brand new home, where each budding flower in the garden was a surprise. (The previous owner planted them, after all.)

Or when you hold a friend’s newborn baby for the first time and take a big, healthy whiff of that new-baby smell. (Then instantly start crying because your kid is all grown up — remember when she was that small?)

Fragrance is powerful! It makes us feel. It helps us remember. It takes our breath away. Many Scentsy fragrances are actually inspired by real-life memories. Our perfumers often try to recapture the bliss of a vacation or the sweetness of childhood as they design a new scent — in the hopes that it will bring back familiar feelings and memories for you, too.

Flower bouquet at a flower store

Here are a few lovely scent memories from the Scentsy home office team, inspired by beloved Scentsy fragrances:

Black Raspberry Vanilla

I know Black Raspberry Vanilla is a classic for a lot of people, but for me, it takes me right back to my great-grandma’s magical backyard, picking berries in the sunshine. We’d visit her every summer until she passed, and we’d never go home without several jars of delicious jam. Now my grandma and my mom make the jam each year, and I guess it’s my turn to learn next! – Katelyn S.

Bonfire Beach

Is there anything better than a bonfire on the beach? Growing up in Southern California, I’ll always have incredible memories of endless summers spent at the beach, the salty ocean air and huddling around a bonfire at night. – Brenda B.

Friends sitting around a beach bonfire

Floral Shop

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite memories was getting to go the florist with my grandmother. I was enraptured by the exotic flowers and greenery, and loved the thoughtfulness of beautiful blooms to celebrate milestones. Floral Shop Scentsy Bars vaulted me back to those days with my grandmother. I got one for Bring Back My Bar and keep it just to evoke those memories. – Kathleen K.

Lemon Thyme Berry

As a child, one of my favorite and most prized possessions was a set of scented markers. They smelled marvelous, they colored beautifully, AND I was the only kid in the class who had them. Lemon Thyme Berry smells just like the red and purple works of art I would create with my markers. — Rocio M.

Prickly Pear & Agave

The cactus-lined beach trails of Virgin Gorda will always hold a special place in my heart. The melon cacti and their bright pink fruit give those island footpaths a rugged beauty you won’t find on a postcard. This fragrance sends me back to tranquil childhood hikes. — Dylan H.

That’s the power of Scentsy fragrance!

It’s time to share your scent memories with us in the comments below. Experience new and classic Scentsy fragrances and tell us what comes rushing back.

Comments

  1. candles4moms Reply

    Tomato Vine was a special scent to me. It reminded me of my mom’s tomato garden she always had growing in the backyard. We would pick a fat one, wash it, slice it, then sprinkle salt on it and yum yum! She also made these grilled cheese and sliced tomato sandwiches that were amazing. Once my mom died 9 years ago I found myself smelling the vines of vine ripe tomatoes at the grocery store. Sadly all my tomato vine bars are gone too. I just need one cube! Not to melt but just to smell when I want to evoke that memory.

    • alexandra wickfree Reply

      I agree i have it in my scentsy museum –

      The smell of tomato vines is me at 3 with mum as only child (yeahh hahha) and we are picking and eating baby tomatoes in the green house in Leigh. Its possibly one of my first memories and so vivid. The bar will always remind me of mum x

      Sorry for your loss but glad the bar brings you comfort x

  2. Tracy Reply

    Sweet Pea and Vanilla takes me back to being a kid, without any worries of modern life. Our garden was full of sweet peas. The scent would fill the air in the summer sun.

  3. Yvonne Reply

    Omg! When I first smelled Tomato Vine at Spring Sprint it brought me back to my childhood days and brought tears to my eyes . Every time I visited my grandparents, I would help my grandmother pick tomatoes and would smell the exact aroma emanating from the garden. If I could just go back to those days. Thank you Scentsy for bringing back those beautiful cherished memories with just that scent.

  4. REBECCA Lucas-Patton Reply

    Honey Dew I loved this scent, it reminded me of sweet summers in the country at my grandmother’s! I wish we still had this scent!

    • Scentsy Reply

      It’s amazing how fragrance can instantly transport you to another time and place! ??

  5. Jennifer D Reply

    Scents are amazing! Memories laat even lonfer when attached to a scent! Makes my heart happy when flash backs happen.

    • Scentsy Reply

      Yes! We love that scents help us hold onto special people, places, and moments in our lives. ?

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